Friday, 25 February 2011

Vintage Knits Review

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link (all pattern links are to Ravelry

Impressions: The descriptions about the garments just made me laugh. It's written like a vogue fashion guidebook, describing the accessories and garments with the knitted items, and occasionally the locations, rather than concentrating on how the garment is made and what the details are. Once you get past this attempt to be a fashion book and you realise that many of the patterns are in fact pretty classic pieces and quite nice really. This was first published as Vintage Style by Rowan Yarns in 2004; this is a 2010 reprint by Search Press. The designers are Kaffe Fassett; Sarah Dallas; Kim Hargreaves; Martin Storey; Sharon Peake; Louisa Harding; Brandon Mably and Lucinda Guy. This is a book of designs inspired by the 40's, 50's and 60's designed for a more modern sensibility. The sizing for women's doesn't really go above 40" but wwith a range of sizes sizing up shouldn't be too hard.

Translated for the american audience the US needle size takes precidence. Kim Hargreaves has the majority of patterns here so if you like her style this might be the book for you.

I though most of the patterns were pretty classic or adaptable to be more classic with changes of colour or leaving off some of the ornamentation.

Types of patterns: Men and women's Jumpers, cardigans and some scarves

Number of Patterns: 30

Split of patterns: cardigan/Jacket (13); Men's Waistcoat (1); Men's Jumper (6); Jumper (5); Shawl/stole (1); scarf (1); short-sleeved top (3); Coat (1); men's cardigan (1)

Size Range: Men: 38"-46" (s-xxl); Women's 32"-40" (xs-xl)

Colour/Black & White: Colour with some colour-enhanced charts

Schematics: Yes

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced for most a few are pretty easy, provided you have some exposure to the UK way of knit patterns.

How to knit guide: No

Experimental/Classical/Modern: fairly classical

Comments on patterns:

Laurent a belted cardigan with a shawl style collar this has floral intarsia and some embroidery, enough of the colour to add interest but not too much to swamp the garment, if I was making this I would seriously consider the placement of the lowest flower where the neck starts to split, it might be more flattering a little higher up. Sharon Peake is the designer of this one

Chinese Basket by Kaffe Fassett; a man's jumper and tank top. This ids relatively subdued for a Kaffe Fassett piece but you'd need to be pretty confident of your colourwork to tackle this one

Suzette is a v-necked cardigan with a small patterned stripe. Could be loud, could be subtle, the stripes are quite obvious in the model but they're small so they might suit some more than others. You would want to be happy working with colourwork charts as this is how it's done. Designed by Kim Hargreaves

Fleur is also by Kim Hargreaves, a bolero style jacket with a high fastening neck. Sleeves are knit at the same time and it's bead-edged.

Bridget by Martin Storey is a black and white highnecked cardigan. The pattern concentrates on the yoke with only "lice" patterning on the main body

Clark is a pretty plain men's jumper with faux-seams to add some interest and a turtleneck. Designed by Kim Hargreaves

Aimee using stripes of two strands and a smaller needle and one strand and a bigger needle this creates a fine and airy garment, the original is knit in kidsilk haze. An interesting idea. Another Kim Hargreaves design

Elise more of a jacket or formal cardigan than relaxed garment this has curved fronts "and a ruffled edge, the front wrap would make this a warm garment, and another by Kim Hargreaves

Tyrolean CardiganThis is designed by Sarah Dallas and is a waistlength cardigan that looks from the pictures that you might need to make some adjustments if you wanted it to meet for the top few buttons. Some embroidery detail adds to the cardigan.

Faye is a cardigan with a belt, designed by Kim Hargreaves, deep v-neck with a i-chord belt just above the ribbing. The styling of the pictures really doesn't give you a lot of detail about the piece.

Mason is another Kim Hargreaves pattern with cabling lost to the darkness of the original yarn and a turtle neck, also features reverse stocking stitch

Jolie is also by Kim Hargreaves, a slip stitch deep v-necked cardigan with button detailing on the wrists. Commentary on Ravelry lead me to suspect that the sleeves may need to be longer or the v-neck stopped earlier, it sits a bit wide.

Collette designed by Louisa Harding this uses stripes of lace vertically rather than horizontally and the original was knit in 4-ply, so possibly a use for singleton balls of covetable sock yarn.

Chantel by Kim Hargreaves is a crochet pattern, take multiple colours at random, crochet motif, 100 motifs later you crochet them together and create a stole/shawl.

Magnolia plain jumper (made with Kid Silk Haze and Kid Classic together) with collar and button detail. Pretty classic piece from Kim Hargreaves

Joy straight knitting produces a collar on this Kim Hargreaves designed cardigan that has beading (approximately 5,300 of them!) The Peplum is unbuttoned and could possibly do with being bigger.

Piers designed for men by Martin Storey, this jumper has tree and snowflake desiges in roundels and a fairly tight wrap-over neck.

Monettedesigned by Lucinda Guy, knit in Kid Silk Haze and 3.25mm needles the scarf has stripes and lace to the bottom

Cherie this is a jumper with an almost boat neck, knit in DK (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed) and otherwise is quite plain. It does have some shaping. Designed by Kim Hargreaves

Oriel An Asymmetrically fastened jacket, I would like to see it open, knit in 4ply and kidsilk haze held together.

Salina a polo-shirt collar with shaping on this relatively plain jumper knit in Felted Tweed. A basic pattern designed by Kim Hargreaves

Beau; a man's jumper with a polo-shirt neckline and some stitch detail to break up the monotony. Yet another by Kim Hargreaves, knit in Aran weight yarn.

Agnes a t-shirt style top, fitted and with an open detail on the sleeve, knit in 4-ply and designed by Kim Hargreaves

Demi Another Kim Hargreaves, knit in Aran weight yarn this is an Aran inspired jumper with shoulder buttons and a round neck.

Touscon Scape is designed by Brandon Mably, knit in yorkshire tweed Aran and DK throughout, fitted colourwork cardigan.

Charlot is a Martin Storey design, patterned and embroidered, knit in 4-ply yarn, I've seen variations without the embroidery and it just didn't seem as nice as those with. Your mileage may vary.

Riva long coat, designed by Kim Hargreaves, knit in chunky weight yarn this is relatively plain but enlivened by a corsage, which could probably be replaced by a brooch.

Jarrett a man's cardigan knit in Dk with shoulder patches and elbow patches. Could be a good design for someone who often wears out their elbows!

Origami is a Kaffe Fassett pattern, triangles abound in this colourwork jumper knit in 4-ply and designed for men.

Mili is a t-shirt with an interesting neckline, knit in 4-ply and decorated with touches of colourwork and designed by Lucinda Guy

Alouette is designed by Sarah Dallas, knit in 4-ply this has a lace pattern and stripes of colour. Tapers to the bottom as it's designed to be waist length so lengthening could need some work.

Buy/Borrow: I plan to get a copy, while the puff-pices on each pattern is maddening, I've read much worse. Behind those are quite good patterns, while they don't have a really good range of sizing overall I found it pretty interesting and worth my while.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has a few copies in stock.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Pattern Mocking

Honestly I think that mocking patterns falls into two basic camps. The "what is that and why did you need to do that?" and then there's the one where it's a mocking of the Aesthetic of a different era. I hope never to be a fan of fun-fur in garments.

Now I'm all for picking on modern patterns I often have issues with picking on older ones. Particularly those older ones that were of utilitarian bent. I think some of that comes from being a biker chick. Yes I am a pillion on a motorbike all too often, and this has taught me a few lessons.

Tuck it in. Oh yes, if it's loose it will provide an access point for the biting wind to nip you in places you never knew breezes could get into.

Wear Layers - multiple layers are a godsend. Layers up front, particularly around the neck and front seams, layers near your back... oh yes. I now truly understand dickeys, I need to knit some!

Buy the jacket that's a little too big - those layers need to go somewhere!

Low waist trousers may be cute but you will freeze. My trousers aren't low-waist, I still get cold above them. I couldn't believe it when my kevlar trousers were offered in low-rise...

So I do understand why many men depicted in early 20th Century pictures are shown wearing tight-fitting jumpers that tucked in. If I was in an army with a fairly strict dress code I'd want a jumper that could be worn as a relatively invisible layer. Colourwork also adds layers particularly Fair-isle (inartasia not so much) as you're using both yarns at the same time. Also if I worked in a place with a pretty strict dress code that was very cold I'd be inclined to have a jumper on under my formal jacket. Fashion and perceived right or wrong of a look has a lot to do with what we're told looks right rather than what actually makes sense for the person on the street. Who hasn't mocked the young girls who seem to keep warm in winter only from the looks they get? Only last night Mac and I went around to the shops and saw a guy walk past us quickly only in a shirt on his upper half while I shivered because I forgot my gloves. Oh boy did we mock him!

Looking at modern men's fashions I'm actually sometimes surprised at the snark about tight-fitting mens jumpers that is from only a few years ago. Yes I look at men's jumpers, I'm broad-shouldered and they look better on me than some of the alternatives!

I mean I mocked the knitted sleeves and leg-warmers, there are days I fantasise about having some! You still will never see me (unless for a very good charitable cause) in some of the designs I've seen on Yarn Yuck (though some of the snark is more about the models than the garments)

Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

Impressions: It's beautifully shot. However to me it does come across as trying a little too hard. Interspersed among the beautifully shot photographs of the garments are some shots of nature which seem to be there purely to enforce the green theme while ignoring some aspects of the production of some of the yarns involved (Cotton is often quite water hungry and while the growing of Bamboo is sustainable the processing to form the yarn isn't always that clean); there is a mention of using organic but no discussions of why. The one-page piece on plant and herb dyes includes some info on some medicinal uses for the dyes, which makes me a little uneasy as it's in very general way with no ideas of proportions or dilutions, and no warnings about possible interactions with other drugs.

This book is laid out in a pictures first pattern next format. I'm always a little wary about this layout, it sometimes comes across as padding and in this case I did feel that it was. It's full of the usual suspects for babies, mittens, blankets, toys, booties, etc. I would have been happier with more action shots. Most of the items are depicted in fairly neutral colours.

And then I passed it around at the Fibre Fun Friday. Oh man did the photographs come in for criticism. Many of them were questioned for their usefulness for portraying the garment, and in several there were questions about suitability at all, then again some of the people looking at the photographs are photographers themselves and can be quite critical about the thinking behind photographs. The general impression was underwhelmed. Many folks also questioned the usefulness of many of the patterns

Types of patterns: Baby patterns

Number of Patterns: 20

Split of patterns: blankets, toys, garments, ornaments

Size Range: 0-3/9-12 months

Colour/Black & White: all colour

Schematics: no, charts are only for colourwork

Target Audience: Fashionably green or folks looking for fairly classic mostly cotton baby-wear.

How to knit guide: no

Experimental/Classical/Modern: fairly classic design here.

Comments on patterns:
Cellular Blanket is knit in Milk Cotton and is described as both insulating and breathable, the yarn is DK

Teddy Bear - knit in Aran Weight yarn from British Wool and with gingham cotton paw pads and ears "can easily be customised to coordinate with baby's nursery"

Initialled Washcloth - knit in hemp yarn, DK weight, from comments I've seen about hemp I'd be inclined to wash this one a few times before use and testing on an adult first might be advisable. Has a useful alphabet of capital letters that could be used in other projects.

The Classic Cardigan is not depicted anywhere on a child. Looks good but I'd like proof.

Hare Doorstop is stuffed with Rice and Cotton and with that mix you would need to ensure it keeps dry! Knit in DK yarn (the sample is knit in hemp), lined with muslin, this would be good practice for learning how to create a lining for an item.

Scented Cushion - knit in 4ply Cotton this is more a scented sachet than cushion as it's 14cm x 14 cm; lined and stuffed

Rabbit Rattle - the introduction mentions baby alpaca yarn but the materials list talks about Organic Cotton... a circular rattle with a rabbit head attached.

Hat and Boots - again not photographed on a baby, these look well, striped hat and boots with a ribbon loop attached on the inside.

Fairisle Papoose - not for a beginner really if knit in the cotton suggested - cotton can be hard to get not to look uneven when you're not familiar with the technique. This is knit in DK. The Fairisle is nicely understated and only two-colour, so if you're willing to put a bit of concentration into this it could be good.

First Blanket - made in Bamboo dk weight yarn, worked in garter stitch with a saw tooth edging, which is sew in afterwards.

Dress and Pants - the dress reminds me somewhat of hospital gowns. Actually modelled, but not from the front! Worked in 4ply milk cotton

Recycled Rag Basket, small and large - using rags construct a moss stitch basket, sew together.

Sweater and Trousers - jumper with a pocket and shoulder buttoning and trousers with a pocket as well, unmodelled. Knit in DK weight cotton

Bootees and Bonnet - cute bootees with a lacy pattern that look like summer shoes. The "bonnet" is the hat depicted on the cover of my edition.

Lace Cushion - knit in Dk cashmere-cotton with a lot of texture and lace this would possibly be a great present for the mother!

Bird Mobile - knit in dk organic cotton "these are assembled with shiny natural buttons,

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Review of Itty Bitty Nursery by Susan B Anderson

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

Impressions: Spiral bound inside a cover; the author encourages readers to leap right in and knit what inspired them. However the chapters are actually arranged thematically. Starting with Squares and Rectangles you're looking at relatively simple garter stitch squares sewn together to make items and while a little rough and ready. Then it moves to baby sets where more complicated stitches get involved. There's also some embroidery. The chapter on Nursery items has some very sweet bits and pieces that could be made quite quickly but I'd say a few are quite fiddly. On the Go baby has some pacifier clips and other items for out and about. Playtime has bigger toys than the nursery items.

Overall it's sweet, the photographs are cute and do show the items fairly well, the instructions appear clear and fairly straightforward, most appear to be well laid out (not having knit any of the patterns myself I can't really comment on the ease or non-ease of use!) and while some don't fall into my aesthetic many of them are cute. This book got a lot of people quite gushy about it, words like "sweet" and "cute" were scattered about with abandon! While some of the items may date, the photographs look pretty classic with minimalistic settings in relatively neutral backgrounds. If you were looking for something a little different from the usual this would be a good book to get.

The texts is a little small and the two-coloumn layout can break the flow of the pattern. Some of the headings are a little faint. While the information about the embroidery isn't bad the layout of lettering isn't really entered into (an issue with the hanging sachet with bebe written on it, particularly if you want to change the lettering). Published in the US this does occasionally use US terms and the crochet would be US terms as well. Double check before launching into the edging!

Types of patterns: Stuff, including clothers, for babies

Number of Patterns: 40, however some of these are slight variations on themes.

Split of patterns: mostly accessories and toys there are also a fair number of baby clothes here too.

Size Range: newborn to 24 months

Colour/Black & White: colour photographs; mostly black text with some colour enhancement.

Schematics: For the garments

Target Audience: Parents and people looking for baby gifts

How to knit guide: yes, broken into two pieces, the basics; near the front; and some more advanced techniques after the patterns.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: I'd rate them as pretty classical.

Comments on patterns: The squares and rectangles chapter isn't a bad place for a beginner knitter, though you would need to know how to sew for this one. The Squares and rectangles baby set are pretty doable within the abilities of most and could possibly cure some of their fear of full garments. Basically you knit several garter stitch scarves and sew them together. What could be simpler? There's a Cardigan, a hat and booties.

A Hanging sachet uses some embroidery detail but that's really up to the maker

Grumpy Old bear is made of multiple garter stitch squares. yarn leftovers make him a scarf; and a cardigan finishes off his ensemble.

Patches is a patchwork blanket that can be made by a group, decorated by pompoms, the designer changed direction of the squares. Throwing in a few corner to corner ones would also add in some interesting texture and be good practice.

The next chapter is Baby Sets: Circles and stripes stroller blanket begins the chapter. Crocheted on and embroidered on circles add to the interest. There's also a matching Stroller Jacket and Mittens. To finish out the piece there's a Chubby Bunny, using leftovers!

The Flower Cardigan and Hat set uses applique to add in the piece and i-cord for an interesting stem that forms loops for the buttons. A matching hat also uses playful i-cord.

Baby's Texture Blanket - using tonnes of colour and a variety of stitches this is a very varied piece.

A cozy book pillow (cushion) and slippers are quite cute, the cushion has a pocket in the back for a favourite book) a boatneck striped jumper rounds out the piece, with some surface embroidery that echoes embroidery on the cushion.

Pure and Sweet layette, with cardigan, hat, booties and blanket this is intended for newborns, add in a bunny rattle and your're set

Nursery Goodies is the next chapter: Opening with a Garden Mice Mobile this has a set of five mice playing around a purchased unit, it has flowers and mice in all sorts of strange contortions.

The ubiquitous Baby box covers make an appearance, a wipe cover with pompoms and a tall tissue box cover ditto.

The Clothesline is clever with two jumpers, a t-shirt, jeans and umbrella decorating it.

Peas and Carrots are a pair meant to be cushiony.

On the Go, Baby has a variety of pacifier clips: flower, Elephant and Frog

Fruit Loops Bag is a felted bag for carrying all the essentials, with embroidered flowers, it has several pockets and would probably be a useful bag for a lot of other purposes.

Quick Knit Mini-tote. Cliched pink bag with sequins because "little girls love sequins and love pink"

Cupcake Baby set, made in cream, white and with a cherry on top of the hat and cream and white stripes on the scarf this is a rather cute Hat, Scarf and Mitten set.

Frenchie - a hat with a fair bit of colourwork, mostly due to knitting in rows, some surface embroidery.

The Last chapter is Playtime with a Cupcake Tea set, Cake Plate, saucers, serving plate, mini-cupcakes, sugar bowl, sugar cubes, teacups, teaspoons, creamer (milk jug); Tea Pot and Tea Bags

Dotted Chickens - stuffed spotty chickens.

Three Pigs and a Wolf - cute three huts too and a black pot.

Buy/Borrow: I do admit to liking some of the patterns, they have enough quirkyness to appeal to me but really it would need to be a very special baby to get that much work out of me

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has copies in stock.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Aran Knitting by Alice Starmore review

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: mostly garments, a few accessories

Number of Patterns: 15

Split of patterns: Jumper (6); Jumper Child (2); Hat (2); Cardigan (3); shawl (2)

Size Range: 32-48" (81-122cm); Children 23-28"(58-71cm)

Colour/Black & White: Colour

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced.

How to knit guide: no, some information but it does assume that you have knitting experience

Experimental/Classical/Modern: classical

Comments: This is a reprint of the out of print book that was quite popular online. Alice takes a look at the historical truth behind the garments and presents it quite well in an introduction that is only missing a bibliography. The second part is Aran Patterns, taking both traditional and her versions.

The third portion are the "Classic Aran Designs"

(all links are to Ravelry)

Starting with Aranmor, knit in aran weight bainin yarn this has a saddle shoulder and ornamental rib, photographed with both male and female models.

Killeany - designed for children, another saddle shoulder pattern worked in Aran wool

Galway is a gansey yarn hat, to fit children age 4-8

Na Craga - is in a 3ply yarn, again saddle shouldered, the cables on the front of this run both directions.

Fulmar is in an even finer yarn, saddle shouldered, ornate ribs.

Kittywake is a hat knit in a fine yarn with fairly complicated cables.

Irish Moss is in a 3ply yarn with ornate cabling, while ornate it isn't too busy. Pictured on both Male and female models.

Maidenhair is a round-necked collared cardigan knit in Gansey yarn, aran and openwork

Maidenhair shawl uses the patterning from the jumper in a shawl.

The Fourth Chapter is "Celtic Designs"

First is St Enda, a ornate saddle shouldered cabled unisex jumper, knit in aran yarn

St Brigid, ornately cabled with a braid around the neck, knit in 3-ply

Sigil uses a simple knotwork and some decorative details for a childs aran weight jumper

St Ciaran is an ornately cabled shawl knit in 3-ply yarn

Boudicca's Braid uses contrasting colour yarns to create an interesting cardigan. Remastered in 2-ply yarn for this edition

Eala Bhan is an ornate cardigan with tapered cables and body shaping, knit in 2-ply yarn, I would really like to knit this one for myself some day.

The last chapter is about designing your own Aran Jumper.

The patterns are designed to be knit in Alice Starmores' own yarn and by all accounts this would produce the best results. Substitution should be done with care and results won't be the same as the originals. The back describes it as a definitive guide and while it is quite extensive I would say that there are other ideas that could be got from other books. I like many of the patterns but some of the necklines look somewhat like afterthoughts. I also have to admit that I would be sorely tempted to use some of the elements of some patterns to make into cardigans for myself rather than jumpers, that way I would be more likely to wear them.

Overall this is an amazing book, the patterns are inspirational, with an interesting twist that takes them out of the tourist set and into classic design. It demands an eye for detail and you would need to be determined to put in a lot of work to finish one of these pieces.

Buy/Borrow: This is a book for fairly advanced intermediate and advanced knitters. It's inspirational and the patterns are complicated but I would say rewarding. If you're interested in Aran patterns or the history of Aran Knitting I would say that this is one of the better books out there on this topic. The various different patterns are charted and it would be pretty simple to adapt or change some of the patterns to suit various people.

Where found: I bought a copy for myself when I saw that it was coming back into print, Dover publications have it available directly. Once my copy was in and I saw the extensive history of Aran Knitting I recommended that Dublin City Public Libraries invest in a few and there are some copies in stock now.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Review of Special Knits by Debbie Bliss

BookDepository Link; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: Baby and toddler clothing

Number of Patterns: 22 patterns

Split of patterns: tank top (2); blanket (2); jacket/cardigan (9); jumper (4); toy (1); dress (2); shawl (1); bag (2)

Size Range: 6-36 months

Colour/Black & White: Colour photographs throughout

Schematics: no

Target Audience: some are pretty simple but the ornamentation would require a lot of care and attention to detail.

How to knit guide: no

Experimental/Classical/Modern: pretty classic stuff

Comments: This stuff is really for the person with a lot of time or the parent planning to bring a baby or toddler to a special event. Theres a lot of ribbon, embroidery, ties and other fiddly work in these.

Eyelet Vest - a tank top with eyelets and a ribbon running through. Knit in Baby Cashmerino

Garter Stitch Blanket - cast on multiple stitches in Aran weight yarn, keep knitting.

Ribbed Jacket - this is a pretty basic wide-collared jacket, with an optional ornamentation on the fastener, knit in Aran weight yarn

Hooded Sweater - pretty basic, knit in aran yarn

Embroidered Kimono, knit in Debbie Bliss Prima this has contrasting edging and ribbon ties and floral embroidery all over

Ribbon Edged cardigan - knit in baby Cashmerino this has a ruffle-edged ribbon sewn into the edge. some nice stitch detail but the photographs don't really show the garment clearly

Rabbit - a toy rabbit knit in Cashmerino aran

Alphabet Sweater - aran weight yarn, cables and an embroidered letter in the front

Check and Cross stitch Jacket - knit in Debbie Bliss Prima (a dk yarn), this looks cute but the book doesn't show a full frontal shot of the garment. Some nice detail in what I can see, embroidery adds to the colourwork.

Ribbon-tied dress, knit in baby cashmerino with a ribbon tie, faux wraparound front.

Shawl knit in baby cashmerino, with a subtle body pattern and border that's slip stitched on, this is a nice piece.

Picot Dress and bag - a tunic really rather than a dress with Debbie Bliss' almost trademark moss stitch on the bodice, knit in Baby Cashmerino, the bag is worked in the flat and seamed up with a ribbon tie, would also be good for lavender or herbs, it would be pretty easy to work this in the round

Velvet-edged jacket, a fairly plain jacket edged with narrow piped ribbon, knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

Fair Isle Top- decorated with bands of fair isle and beads (which are sewn on afterwards!) this has a slightly square neckline and would be a good introduction to fair-isle for someone looking to try it. Knit in Baby Cashmerino

Bow-tied Bolero is knit in baby cashmerino and would be ideal for a wedding.

Beaded Cardigan - knit in baby cashmerino, the beads are sewn in afterwards.

Sampler Blanket - knit in Baby Cashmerino is is a sampler style baby blanket with cross stitch on completion

Organza-edged cardigan, a fairly simple cardigan is edged in organza ribbon, knit in Debbie Bliss Prima

Hooded Kaftan - a kaftan has some embroidery highlights, knit in Debbie Bliss Prima

Carrying Bag - knit yards of moss stitch sew with a lining. Knit in Cashmerino Aran.

Argyle cardigan - argyle motifs decorate the bottom of this cardigan knit in baby Cashmerino

Argyle Slipover - a tank top with the argyle motifs decorating the bottom, both together would make a baby-sized twin-set, also knit in Baby Cashmerino.

Overall it's not bad, however Debbie Bliss seems to be terribly allergic to knitting things in the round, where it would eliminate some of the seaming. I would also question the sewn-on beads, you would have to be extremely careful sewing them on! It's not a bad book but not my favourite.

Buy/Borrow: If I had a child and was going to be going to a special occasion I'd be tempted by this book, the knits are pretty simple but the additions add a lot to the pattern. A quick look at the Ravelry projects showed me that many of the projects with ornamentation had it left off. It could make some very pretty gifts but I'm not sure that it would be for everyone. I'd borrow it first to see if it's for you. I'd say that most people would knit one or two patterns out of this and a second project would probably be the rabbit or sampler blanket.

Where found: Dublin City Public libraries has recently got some copies in. (old copy)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Baby Knits for Beginners review

BookDepository Link; Ravelry Link (all pattern links are to Ravelry)

Types of patterns: Baby Patterns: Clothing & Accessories

Number of Patterns: 15

Split of patterns: scarf (2); Blanket (1); Sachet (1); Jumper (3); Hat (1); Cushion (1); Cardigan (4); Slippers (1); Dress (1); Socks (1)

Size Range: 3 months to 36 months for some but not all patterns

Colour/Black & White: Colour

Schematics: Surprisingly no.

Target Audience: Beginners

How to knit guide: Yes

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Classical

Comments: This book would be ideal for beginner knitters. Particularly someone who has decided to learn to knit because a family member (or they) are having a baby. The patterns range from very very simple (the Garter Stitch Scarf for example) to more complicated (the V-Necked Sweater with Pockets) but they're all pretty much within the grasp of a relatively new knitter (or a more experienced knitter looking for something quick and simple to make!). All of the patterns use her yarn (to be expected honestly)

The first pattern is the Garter stitch scarf, your basic, learning to knit scarf, but as it's for a baby, fortunately quick. Knit in Aran this uses one ball of her Cashmerino.

Garter Stitch Blanket would be a way of practicing sewing up, she does suggest turning every alternate square through right angles which adds interest to the piece. Knit in garter stitch this could also be a good piece to practice picking up and knitting on, if you wanted to, again knit in her cashmerino Aran.

Sachets: These could be made bigger or smaller and are intended for lavender or small notions. DK Cotton used here. Stocking stitch.

Boat Neck Sweater introduces some minor shaping but it's largely square, knit in Cashmerino Aran

Simple hat - a good practice for learning decreases, this is knit in the flat and seamed (changing it to in the round would be fairly simple, dk in cotton.

Cushions with Buttonholes is pretty simple and making first buttonholes in something like a cushion would mean minor mistakes would be easily glossed over. There are actually two cushions done in chunky yarn. One is in moss stitch, the other in a wide broken rib

Jacket with Moss Stitch Bands. the Button and buttonhole bands are done at the same time. Stitches do need to be picked up for the neck, but it's only a little amount. Knit in Baby cashmerino

V-Neck Cardigan with Contrast Ribs, the buttonbands are worked afterwards for this in a different colour. Stitches are picked up, knit in cotton DK

Moss Stitch shoes are baby booties worked in moss stitch. worked flat and sewn up later knit in wool/cotton

Sweater with Square Set-in Sleeves. This teaches how to work a set in sleeve. A plain and purl effect diamonds decorate it, knit in cotton Dk, I've knit this one myself and it worked quite well in a different DK yarn

Raglan cardigan with fully fashioned shaping. The decreases match along the side. Knit in DK yarn

Dress with eyelets is a sleeveless dress with eyelet detail around the waist knit in wool/cotton

Shawl Collared Jacket uses short rows for the collar, worked in Aran weight yarn

Two-needle socks are worked in the flat and then seamed, magic loop learning potential here! Uses Baby Cashmerino.

Scarf with Pocket - the original uses a contrast colour lining, which is a nice detail. Knit in Aran weight yarn.

V-Neck sweater with pockets is a baby cashmerino jumper with contrast edging.

Overall if you knit each piece as it came you would probably end up with quite a good grounding in knitting. Each piece adds to the skills learned, in a fairly linear manner and makes this quite a good beginners book. My only problem would be the issue with lack of schematics as this would be also a good time to teach someone about how schematics work.

Buy/Borrow: It would be useful if you knit a lot of things for babies. Fairly simple stuff that offers occasional details that make the garments more interesting.

Where found: This is part of a second buy of this book, the first buy got us one copy, there's now 8 copies in stock in Dublin City Council.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Purls of Wisdom

Book Depository Link ; Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: accessories and household items

Number of Patterns: Scarf (4); cowl (1); wristwarmers (1); Hat (2); booties (1); baby hat (1); baby blanket (1); Baby Bib (1); Cushion (1); Hot Water bottle cover (1); Tea Cosy (1); Cafetiere cosy (1); Bracelet cover (1); cuff (1); i-pod cosy (1); Laptop cover (1)

Split of patterns:

Size Range:

Colour/Black & White: Colour photos, black and white text with some red enhancement

Schematics: no, then again none of the patterns really need it, there's also no charts for stitch patterns)

Target Audience:

How to knit guide: This book is mostly about how to knit with a few simple projects to get you started.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: classic with some modern twists. I'm not sure some of the cute is going to survive long

Comments: The cover quote from India Knight suggesting that it's "the only book about knitting you'll ever need." made me laugh "Gorgeous and essential" is the other half of the quote, which I would disagree with in part. The author herself nominates Barbara Walkers treasury of Knitting Patterns as her Desert Island Book! Pattern links are to Ravelry

It's one of those hip new knitting books that seem to be proliferating as publishers discover that there's a demand for knitting books. And yes, it's well illustrated (they use three colour printing with red as well as black and white) and several of the projects are challenging, however I would disagree with the ratings given to projects. Seriously, a plain pair of straightforward socks merit an intermediate, not a complicated rating with lots of don't worry's and panic nots in the instructions. I think people often overestimate complicatons and make things much more complicated than they really are. My best instructions to a first-time sock knitter, is to relax, find someone to point you at a simple sock pattern, preferably one that has plenty of people who have knit it and very little or no errata and just follow the pattern. What's the worst that can happen? That you have to rip it? So what. That it turns out with holes? Features I say, features. Trust in the power of the yarn and just knit it.

Deep Breath

The patterns are pretty basic but poorly sorted; "gifts for girls"; "gifts for boys"; "gifts for babies"; "gifts for the home" and "novelty gifts" are the various topics; she does talk about how to adapt the pattern to make it different.

Starting with Gifts for Girls you have a bramble stitch scarf. To my mind a scarf that's more unisex than gendered, the only way to gender it is with colour (and actually the photographs are of a neutral cream)
Lacy Scarf - a fairly regular scarf pattern in this (btw the pattern is written not charted)
Chunky Cowl, knit on 12 mm needles this is a pretty classic piece
Wristwarmers both with and without thumbholes
Classic Beret - actually without blocking on a plate you pretty much get a tam rather than a beret...
Cloud-nine socks - socks with a lacy pattern, she does suggest trying the plain socks first before these but rates them equally hard!

Gifts for boys:
Moss Stitch Scarf - knit on 12mm needles this is pretty unisex
Moss Stitch Tie
Diagonal Knot Stitch Scarf - knit on 5mm needles it's also fairly unisex
Twisted rib Beanie - a basic unisex beanie
Basic Boy Socks - basic anyone plain socks, knit with 3mm needles so pretty useful for any number of elaborate sock yarns.

Gifts for babies:
Mary Jane Booties: cute
Simple Baby Hat - knit in dk on smaller than usual needles (3.5mm)
Born under a star Blanket - knit in bulky yarn (6.5mm needles) this is a fairly repeditive but fairly spectacuar blanket
Bib - knit in dk cotton
Mortimer the Dog - cute but you'd need to make sure that the sewn parts are well anchored

For the Home:
Honeycomb Cable Cushion - good cable practice
Hot water bottle cover - knit in aran with 4.5mm needles
Tea Cosy - bulky knit, a modern take on a classic design
Cafetiere Cosy - again a bulky knit this fits between the top and bottom of the handles of the cafetiere and therefore fails my requirements for a Cafetiere Cosy.

Novelty Gifts - Covered Bangles - belongs with the "gifts for girls" really here. Indeed. Actually the virtue of this one is where the author suggests using a tension swatch and working out how many stitches you need, so a good pattern to start learning about adaptions

Lacy Bracelets - again "girls", these are often referred to as cuffs around the world

I-pod sock - a container for an i-pod

Laptop Case - knit with 10mm needles this is a big bulky cover.

Buy/Borrow: It's aimed at the late teen, early 20's market. If you have mastered the basics it's nothing new (perhaps the resources pages have some more details but apart from that there's really nothing new here) and the patterns aren't a real challenge. The cutesy girl and boy titles and I don't think that a lot of the patterns are as gendered as they are presented. It might be good for a beginner looking to try something new or refresh their mind about the techniques from school. It won't be joining my library.

Where found: Dublin City Public Libraries has copies.